Greater value needs to be delivered to airline passengers, including distribution and how they move through airports, according to Iata.
The global airline body claims its New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard will “unleash innovation” – and that will mean change.
Iata director general and chief executive Tony Tyler, speaking in Dublin, said: “Shopping for air travel is changing. Flying is more than just a seat on a plane. An air ticket has become a product with multiple attributes that may include in-flight Wi-Fi, extra legroom, lounge access and much more.
“And the reality is that it is much easier to access these value-added services via an airline website than through the travel agents who account for 60% of sales.
“This gap exists because distribution via travel agents is built on pre-Internet messaging standards. These don’t have the same capabilities as XML, the language of Internet-based commerce,” said Tyler.
“Iata is working with our travel agent and travel technology partners to close that gap through the NDC.
“While global distribution system companies are moving to make it possible for airlines to merchandise their products in a manner more consistent with airlines’ own websites, each is developing its own proprietary solution.
“Aviation was built on global standards. Consistent with that, NDC will be an open standard available to any and all who want to use it,” said Tyler.
The NDC also responds to passenger demand for customisation and personalisation. Almost half of travellers are interested in sharing details such as travel preferences, age, interest/hobbies and frequent flyer status in order to receive special offers or products and services from airlines tailored to their needs; and a fifth would share their social media profile as well, according to Iata’s 2013 global passenger survey.
Tyler said:”We are making strong progress on NDC. The application for approval of Resolution 787, which is the foundation document for NDC, is before the US Department of Transportation, and we are optimistic of a positive outcome in the fourth quarter that will permit adoption of schemas under development.
“Meanwhile, we are encouraging airlines, travel agents and technology providers to join the pilot phase which is expected to continue through 2014.
“But, let me assure you of a few things. NDC will operate within the same privacy laws that govern every other business. That is no change from today. But, by giving travel agents more information, there will be greater transparency.”
Addressing the airport experience, Tyler said: “A smooth and hassle-free journey where passengers do not have to break stride from the curb to the gate unless they choose to is the goal.
“That would deliver tremendous value to passengers and our vision is to work with our airport and technology partners to make it a reality by 2020.”
To deliver this, self-service, risk-based security processes and continuous connectivity are needed.
“Iata is also working with the Airports Council International to make Wi-Fi connectivity more widely available at airports around the world, which will add value to the customer experience by giving the passenger the option to receive real-time flight information and updates, ability to re-book, receive push notifications, and access airline websites,” said Tyler.
Future technology should allow passengers to use ‘tap and go’ functionality at check-in, boarding gates and airport lounges while providing better connectivity with travel suppliers.
Security is a key component of the passenger experience in airports and a critical part of Iata’s vision for 2020.
“We know that passengers are unhappy with the current security experience,” said Tyler.
“Long queuing times and removing shoes and belts were listed most frequently in the 2013 global passenger survey as the biggest hassles associated with security.
“The way to address that is by transitioning to a risk-based security model that will use information that airlines already provide to governments to help make assessments about travellers.”